Has the Pill Led to an Increase in Prostate Cancer?


That is the possibility raised in a new paper published in BMJ Open and summarized in Science Daily. The presumptive culprit would be environmental estrogen exposure. Add this to the bulging files of Unintended Consequences of Birth Technology (the theme of a recent podcast called “Misadventures in Baby-Making.”) First, from the paper:

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common male malignancy in the Western world, and risk factors associated with this cancer remain ill defined.1 The only acknowledged risk factors thus far are: age, ethnicity and family history.1 Several studies have suggested that oestrogen exposure may increase the risk of prostate cancer,2–4 while other studies have not found an association.5 6

The use of oral contraceptives (OCs) has exploded over the past 40 years and has had a patchy uptake in terms of global utilisation. Emerging literature suggests that OC use may be associated with a variety of medical conditions among consumers, such as atheroembolic disease and even breast cancer.7–10 Aside from disease risk among actual drug consumers, there is also increasing concern about environmental contamination by endocrine disruptive compounds (EDCs) and their association with diseases of increasing incidence such as breast cancer (men and women), early onset puberty and testicular cancer. EDCs include a variety of compounds used in commercial applications, such as detergents, pesticides, cosmetics and building materials.11 It is plausible that by-products of OC metabolism could be passed via urine into the environment in general or drinking water, thus exposing the population at large.

The researchers, David Margel and Neil Fleshner, found a significant correlation between the use of oral contraceptives and mortality from prostate cancer. However, as noted in Science Daily:

The authors emphasise that their research is speculative and designed to prompt further consideration of the issues. As such, their analysis does not confirm cause and effect, and therefore definitive conclusions cannot be drawn, as yet.

(HT: Eric M. Jones)


Not a biologist, but wouldn't dairy products be a more important source of EDCs than metabolised OC byproducts?


interesting call- and, i wonder if phytoestrogens (eg soy) are a functionally equivalent source as well


One of the control population they could use is Japan, where contraceptive pills are extremely rare, and wasn't approved until a couple of years ago.

Norman Briffa

Maybe the final solution of women's emancipation was to get rid of us guys.


At the risk of a slough of thumbs down...I don't understand why we're considering speculative research. No cause/effect determined, not even any conclusions. So why not wait until there's more firm data to bring this up? Am I missing something?

Steve O

Studies like this open the way for further study to be done. Much (most?) research does not produce concrete applications.


Recently I had been reading about vegan diets and reduced rates of prostate cancer.


What kind of backward, pseudo-intellectual are you? Don't you know that the liberating contraceptives can never be questioned or potential problems publicized in such an open-ended manner? One must always express such concerns as parenthetical remarks buttressed by coying reassurances that even if potential problems prove true, society is better of for having used contraceptives. The public losing confidence is, after all, not worth the risk that comes with notifying people of potential problems, as our former Attorney General so ably taught us.


OK, I'm missing something. If it is women on the pill, wouldn't they be more at risk for prostate cancer. No wait, men are more at risk because of estrogen in The Pill because . . . they get it from having sex with women? From women breathing on men? Come on, don't just tell us estrogen causes prostate cancer without telling us of the connection. Where do men get the estrogen from, are they using The Pill? Do homosexual men therefore have a lower chance of prostate cancer?

Can someone give me the connection?


The last sentence of the first quote:
"It is plausible that by-products of OC metabolism could be passed via urine into the environment in general or drinking water, thus exposing the population at large."

Women worldwide have shockingly low levels of prostate cancer. I suggest you do some research online about it, it's really quite something.


That will change: "In 2002, female paraurethral glands, or Skene's glands, were officially renamed the female prostate by the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology." (wikipedia)

Traile Meyer

So, I looked at herbal remedies. Saw Palmetto as an ingredient showed up all over the internet. The Mayo Clinic web site identified strong scientific evidence supporting Saw Palmetto as an effective treatment for an enlarged prostate. Plus, there was no sign of side effects or toxicity.

I bought this formula from Dr Max Powers online called the Prostate Complete. I take a full dose of the Dr Max Powers tablets daily and I do not have any problems, symptons or side effects now for years.


Be careful of statistical samples of one.

I also took saw palmetto regularly for enlarged prostate and was diagnosed with PCa last year

Even today, I can do a cancer risk questionnaire and come out as low cancer risk.


dr max powers prostate complete - my wife got it for me. it worked